It’s Half Way into Four-year Mandates

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After two years in power, several of the leaders who assumed office in May 2015 are still mumbling their mid-term scorecards, writes Olawale Olaleye

The performance rating of the MuhammaduBuhari-led federal government is not a debate anyone can win yet, either for or against and despite the swirling misgivings. Those on either side are still strongly willed about where they stand, regardless of the current state of the economy.

The fanatical fans of the president are quite resolute in their support for him. Apart from the latter day fans, Buhari’s relationship with his supporters dates back to many years, which gave rise to the famous ‘cult followership’ he today boasts. They have chosen to see only the good side of their ‘idol’ and by extension, the government he leads. Their fanatical stand is never changing. He remains popular with them.

Quite interestingly too, the anti-Buhari family owes their root of disavowal to many years of having come to know the man who is now behind the wheels. And curiously, they predicted many of the things that are going wrong in the country today, because such things appear to be the known signature of Buhari’s leadership style.

For some of them, therefore, it is not a question of sheer hate; they just do not believe Buhari has the gravitas to rule a country like Nigeria with its complex ethno-centric nature and numerous crises. Some others in this category do not fancy him just because of his alleged inclination towards a particular ethnic group.
But while these two classes of people continue with their hard line posture on the man, who embodies the leadership of the country today, an assessment of the two years of the Buhari administration is not much of a difficult one, especially if taken up on account of its promises to the Nigerian people, hinged on a tripod of security, economy and corruption.

Short of discountenancing the efforts of the administration in fixing the economy, the last two years has seen the economy flip-flop over lack of clear vision on how to steer this critical aspect of the system. With the nation’s currency on a free fall for so long, coupled with its widespread impact on other critical areas including staple foods, the last two years have hardly provided worthy tales about this administration.

But gradually, things are beginning to normalise in the last few weeks, especially since the take off of the economic recovery plan overseen by Vice-President YemiOsinbajo, shortly before Buhari returned from his last medical vacation in March. The foreign exchange market too had stabilised in the last few weeks, albeit at a cut-throat rate.

Expectedly, the upswing in some of the critical ministries like power, works and housing, transportation, agriculture, Mines and Steel development, education, communications and science and technology, amongst others, will further impact on the economy and cushion the effect of the hardship in the last two years.
Security is perhaps one area the government is believed to have done relatively well, although not without its downsides too. The most crucial security challenge the government knew it would confront even before assuming office was the war on terror as driven by Boko Haram. But soon after coming on-board, other related crimes like kidnapping, armed robbery and vandalism in the Niger Delta increased at an impossible pace. These negatively impacted the economy too.

But after gaining some sort of stability, government seems to be taking full control of the security of the country. The threat posed by Boko Haram has reduced as the terror group has been degraded and territories hitherto occupied by it reclaimed by Nigerian armed forces. The recent release of 82 Chibok girls, albeit through swap deals, is a pointer to the effort of the government in the area of security. Other affiliate crimes too are daily being contained to ease life for the ordinary people.

But the fight against corruption is neither here nor there. That this all-important thrust of the administration has suffered political denotation makes it nearly impossible to see the efforts in that area. With a style that typifies media trial, compounded by avoidable propaganda and stymied by wanton credibility crisis, the anti-graft war, unlike the two others, may have been rated low, notwithstanding the many billions that are daily being announced as recovered loots.

With all these going on amid alleged nepotism and favouritism by the leadership in terms of political appointments, the state of the states too is a cause for concern as some of the state governments have not really helped in upping the game. While a majority of them inherited a backlog of salaries and pensions, efforts by the federal government to intervene through bailouts and other financial supports have been dogged by the controversy of diversion and abuse. That is not to say, however, that a few state governments have not distinguished themselves through the handling of the funds transparently and prudently. But many of the governors have actually failed the people. This, perhaps, is also a reflection of the level of developments in their various states as only a few of them, regardless of party affiliation, have brought about change to their people or exhibited capacity to govern.

Unfortunately, by next year, the nation would have moved away from talking about governance to discussing politics as another round of election would be knocking hard on the doors in the corridors of power.